Birmingham City Opinion: Offering Saido Berahino a contract could be a risky proposition but it might also reap rich rewards
According to The Sun, Birmingham City are prepared to offer former Stoke City striker Saido Berahino a lifeline to stay in the Championship, with reports claiming that Blues manager Pep Clotet believes he can get the best out of the Burundian international.
The Sun understands that the Blues are ready to invite him for a trial after his contract at Stoke City was terminated due to the drunk driving controversy.
The 25-year-old is back from international duty after representing Burundi at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and Birmingham City are hoping that the would attend their pre-season training session very soon.
Berahino scored only thrice in the Championship for Stoke City this past season and made only one start and one substitute appearance since Nathan Jones took over in January.
The 25-year-old’s time at Stoke, which has been blighted by plenty of controversies off the field, finally came to an end when the Potters informed him that his contract would be terminated.
The club sought legal advice regarding his contract and suspended him without pay during proceedings following his arrest for drink driving in February and the Stoke hierarchy finally decided that enough is enough.
However, as the story goes, Berahino might be offered an escape route by Birmingham City and he might as well be facing his former team in the Championship next season.
A youth product of West Brom, Berahino earned rave reviews for his rapid development as a youngster and was tipped by many to evolve into a top-quality Premier League striker.
Despite taking significant steps towards fulfilling his potential with a 14-goal season for the Baggies in the Premier League in the 2014-15 season, Berahino failed to replicate that kind form in the following season.
A coveted £15 million move to Spurs collapsed back in 2015, as West Brom played hardball in the transfer negotiations, and Berahino ultimately joined Stoke City in 2017 for a fee of £12 million (h/t Sun).
However, failed drug tests, negligence in training and many other controversies off the field have hampered his development over the years and he is pretty much back to square one, now that he is currently without a club.
To put things into perspective, Birmingham City would be taking a huge risk if they are really serious about offering the former England U-21 star an escape route.
Berahino’s ill-fated spell at Stoke City was not only blighted by controversies but the Burundian international also failed to justify his inclusion in the team more often than not, scoring only 5 times in 56 appearances across all competitions.
However, it is also worth mentioning here that, barring his disciplinary issues and inconsistencies, Berahino continues to be a young and talented striker with loads of potential. Still only 25, the striker has time on his side to resurrect his faltering career and go on to make a name for himself in English football.
Agreed, it would be somewhat of a gamble for Birmingham City to offer him fresh terms but one can get the feeling that he could be an absolute steal for the Blues if he manages to find his feet in the Championship next season.
To add to that, he is likely to be available for free following the termination of his contract at Stoke, which provides the Blues with a safety net that compensates the risk of bringing in an erratic and indisciplined player.
Birmingham have a lot of cash to spend this summer following the lucrative sales of Jota and Che Adams to Aston Villa and Southampton respectively but they need to reinvest that money to bring in quality replacements for the departed players.
Lukas Jutkiewicz, who racked up 14 goals and 10 assists in the Championship last season, is expected to play a key role once again next term but Berahino, with his pace, sharpness, trickery and intelligent movement, could prove to be the ideal man to complement him up front.
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Birmingham could choose to look for other alternatives in the market but playing a gamble on Berahino won’t be the worst idea, given that he is going to be available for free.